Thursday, September 07, 2006

Train to Taichung

This morning we left Taipei and headed south along the west coast of the island to Taichung, Taiwan's third largest city. We traveled by train, which, if I'm counting right, is my 5th form of transportation (taxi, airplane, subway, scooter, train). After buying our tickets, we walked down to the platform to wait for our train. Following Dad's lead turned out to be a mistake . . .

We got onto what we thought was our train and got comfortable in our seats. Dad mentioned that he was surprised that the train had arrived early. I asked him, "Are you sure that this is the right train?" "Oh yeah." The train pulled out of the station about 10 minutes ahead of time. "Dad, trains don't leave early."

When we got to the next station, he was convinced. We got off and tried to figure out where to go. While talking to the conductor on the platform, the train we were supposed to be on zoomed by us. After transferring and waiting another half hour, we got on the train to bring us to Taichung, about an hour behind schedule. I had a bento box lunch on the train, as recommended by my cousin Joanna from Texas (check out her MRT story here).

Upon arrival at Taichung station, we were greeted by Peter and Sue, old friends of my parents' from the University of Minnesota. Peter, a retired economics professor, was in graduate school at the same time my father was working on his Ph.D. When I was a baby, Peter and Sue took care of me when my parents were busy.

They took Dad and me to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts where we had food and drinks at the museum cafe while catching up. Peter and Sue are avid art museum-goers (they have been to famous museums all over the world) and I invited them to come to New York to see the best museums in the world (Met, MoMA, Guggenheim). I hope they take me up on the offer.

After saying goodbye to Peter and Sue, we met with another one of my cousins, Tsai Ming-Der, and his family. Tsai Ming-Der is a photojournalist for the China Times and he has two teenage children, a boy (Jones) and a girl (Cherry). Cherry skipped her English class to have dinner with us, so I made sure that she practiced her English during our meal. I could tell that Jones liked hip hop from the buttons and stickers on his backpack, so I burned him a CD of some old school hip hop (ATCQ, Illmatic, Biggie, 36 Chambers) after dinner. Gotta spread some hip hop history!

My cousin and his wife drove us to Puli (about an hour and a half drive) after dinner. Puli is a small town in the mountains where another of my cousins, Yi-Wen and her husband Yao-Sheng, lives. We reached their home, settled in, talked, and got ready for bed.

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